Girl Gone Authentic: Self-Centered Decisions

WARNING: Some crude/vulgar content in this article.

When I first became single after almost 16 years of being with my ex-husband, I decided to do things that made me happy or brought me pleasure. I wanted some new experiences. I was 36 years old and had spent the bulk of my adult life trying in vain to please a man, usually at the expense of my own needs and desires. It was time to be self-centered.

Within reason, of course. When my kids were home, I was full-on “momming” and made sure that they were taken care of, and that they felt safe and secure. I was home with them, I cooked dinner every night, etc.

When they were with their dad, I reveled in my single, child-free time. I did things that I’d always thought of doing, but never dared to try. Some of these decisions were good and some weren’t so awesome, but they all helped to get me back on the path of being authentic to myself.

I’m not a lesbian or bisexual, and I’ve never had “feelings” for a woman. BUT – I’ve always been curious as to what it would be like to have sex with a woman. I joined a swinger website (my family and friends would be SHOCKED). I made it clear that I was not looking for a relationship, and that I was not looking to meet a man. I just wanted to experiment sexually. I corresponded with a few people, but then I came across a profile of a husband/wife couple. I emailed with the wife a few times, and we decided to meet in person. We scheduled a lunch date.

She and I clicked immediately. She was attractive, but more importantly, she had a great sense of humor and I loved her personality. After the lunch, she told her husband about me, and they invited me to their home. We “did our thing” a few times, and I’m glad for the experience, but I also know that I’m not interested in doing it again.

I reconnected with a friend who ran the karaoke at a bar on weekends. Several times, I went with him. I drank, sang karaoke, danced, and had fun. I met a guy and we hung out. Nothing serious, but just some fun between consenting adults. In fact, I had “consenting adult” fun with more than one guy over the first several months after I left my ex-husband.

Of all the self-centered decisions I made during the first 6 months after leaving my marriage, there is one that sticks out as being something I’m ashamed to acknowledge. However, I am not being true to myself if I pretend like it didn’t happen. A few months after I liberated myself from my marriage, an ex-boyfriend from high school sent me a friend request on Facebook. He is the boyfriend I’d call my “high school sweetheart” if asked to describe the relationship. I was so in love with him, and I was close with his parents when we were together (and even once we broke up). I’d thought of him so many times over the years; I even thought of him on my wedding day.

Anyway, we messaged back and forth. I told him that I’d left a 16-year relationship/marriage, and he told me that he was married but not happy (what a cliché, but more about that in a minute). I found out that he lived in the same vicinity as my best friend, in Missouri. I was already planning to visit her in about a month, and he told me he wanted to see me while I was there.

Before I went to Missouri, he told me that he thought he was still in love with me after all these years. I admitted that I’d thought of him so many times over the years, wishing that we had never broken up. We made plans to see each other the night I flew in; my best friend knew him as well and had no idea that he lived nearby. She agreed for us to stop at his work on the way to her house from the airport. He was a restaurant manager and would be the only employee left in the establishment when we visited him.

I was so nervous. I hadn’t seen him in years. When I saw him, it felt like no time had passed. I felt an instant connection with him. The three of us caught up on old times. We promised to see each other again before I left Missouri, and my best friend and I went home.

A few nights later, he picked me up and we went to dinner. We talked more in-depth about our lives. He painted a picture of a marriage of “necessity.” He said that she was much younger than him, and they had only been dating for a short while when she got pregnant with their first son. According to him, the relationship was not exclusive when she got pregnant, but they decided to be a “real” couple because of the baby. He said that even though they were married and now had three kids together, he was with her out of obligation/guilt and that they were more of a “brother/sister” relationship than a husband/wife relationship. He said that she had stuck by him when he made a horrible financial mistake, so he “owed it to her” to stay married to her.

And I fell for it. Hook, line, and sinker. I began having an affair with him that night, both physically and emotionally. I pretended like he was my boyfriend, doing my best to block her out of my mind. I went back home, but we continued the emotional affair for months.

His mother knew about it because I told her (I’d gotten back in touch with her and she and I spent a lot of time together). She basically confirmed what he said in terms of he and his wife not having a husband/wife relationship. She told me that she was really hoping that he and I would be together because she wanted her son to be happy, even though she did worry about what a divorce would do to her grandkids.

He came to visit me in the fall of 2010. At the time, his mom and brother lived in the same town I do, so he told his wife that he was coming primarily to visit them. Additionally, he had a teenage daughter from a previous relationship, so he was coming to see her. He told her that he was staying with an old friend; he even told her it was me. She was either naïve, trusting, or didn’t really care about him, because she was okay with him staying at my house. I convinced myself that it was the latter; if she didn’t really care about him, then I could tell myself that what I was doing was okay.

He went back to Missouri, and we continued the emotional side of our affair. We talked on the phone every single day, sometimes for hours. A couple of weeks after he returned to Missouri, his wife sent me a friend request on Facebook. The first twinge of guilt hit me at that point. She was no longer a faceless entity. She told me that his mom said that I was a good cook, so she wanted to know if I’d share some recipes with her because she was “challenged” in the kitchen.

A short time after that, he told me that he and his wife had a long conversation. She noticed that he was more distant than usual after he returned from visiting me, though according to him she didn’t seem to make the connection. He told her that he was seriously unhappy with their marriage. They talked, and according to him, she seemed sad but not devastated. She asked him if there was another woman. He denied it. At that point, I started having doubts about the whole thing. He had the chance to come clean, but he did not do it.

I was going to Missouri again for Christmas. It was the first Christmas without my ex-husband, and he had our kids this year (he had even years for Christmas; I had odd years). I made the plans in late October, a couple of weeks after his visit to see me. He was going to pick me up from the airport.

During November, I really started feeling like this self-centered decision of mine was the wrong one. I was starting to feel so bad about myself. I never thought I’d be the “other woman” and it’s not what I’m about. He and I started bickering on the phone, and then he told me that he wouldn’t be able to get me from the airport after all because he was going to a football game with his father-in-law.

At that point, I asked myself, “What in the fuck am I doing?” I need to end this. I don’t want to be the other woman in a relationship; I want to be the only woman. Also, how unfair to his wife. I no longer cared about the type of marriage they had, because it didn’t make what I was doing okay.

I had made the decision to end things with him, and I was going to do it before I went to Missouri. As fate would have it, my now-fiance’ sent me a friend request on Facebook and told me that it was too bad I was in a relationship because he was single after being with his ex-wife for 12 years and would love to ask me out. I called the married man that night and ended things with him. He tried to call me while I was in Missouri at my best friend’s house, but I didn’t answer the phone.

I haven’t talked to him since. I don’t even think about him anymore, except in passing. Maybe I needed to go through this with him because it gave me some closure that was apparently missing from years ago.

I know that there are many people who will think I was wrong for what I did. I agree with them. The decision to have a relationship with a married man was self-centered and selfish, and I really do regret it. But I learned from this relationship as well. I learned that nothing good comes out of having an affair with a married man, and that I am not “other woman” material. It was another reminder that I need to do a better job of listening to my inner voice.